Players need more games, says Lightbourne
Kyle Lightbourne has echoed what many have been saying for years, insisting that the national programme cannot afford to become dormant and that more matches need to be organised.
The former Bermuda coach attended Monday’s second leg World Cup qualifier against Guatemala, a 1-0 defeat, and said he is impressed with what coach Andrew Bascome is doing with the Island’s young team.
Lightbourne’s mind also raced back almost 23 years as he recalled Bermuda’s 1992 qualifying campaign when they enjoyed success in the early rounds under coach Gary Darrell.
Darrell was also at the match as he was part of the Bermuda team that were honoured at half-time at the National Stadium for the three games they played against Guatemala in 1967.
One of the highlights of the 1992 campaign was Lightbourne’s 77th-minute header in a 1-0 win against El Salvador at the National Stadium.
It was his first goal for Bermuda on home soil and it caused a frenzy with then Premier Sir John Swan jumping out of his seat and running onto the running track in excitement, leaving Fifa to condemn the actions of the crowd.
There was no grandstand in those days and the Bermuda Regiment was brought in to keep the crowd under control in the next game against Jamaica
Lightbourne, a former Stoke City striker, feels there is plenty for coach Andrew Bascome to build on after his team’s displays against Guatemala.
But it is important, according to Lightbourne, for the team to get more international experience before next year’s Caribbean Cup.
“Watching Bermuda play always brings me chills; you always want them to do well and get the result,” Lightbourne said.
“From the coach’s standpoint, I’m sure he will say that they didn’t play to their maximum as a team, that they didn’t play as well as we can play. Over the two legs you can probably say that Guatemala deserved to go through, they had more opportunities than us and more possession.
“At home we didn’t have sustained pressure on them. It’s what we do now — we talked about that way back in ‘92 — but we have to keep playing.
“I know it may sound like we’re playing an old record again but that’s the facts of it all. If we stop [the programme]we’ll go back to square one when the next World Cup qualifying comes around.
“I think the coaching staff has done a great job, but you just have to keep building, keep playing games because it’s an ongoing process. Our programme [in ‘92] died after that but we should have kept building.”
Lightbourne and Shaun Goater, whose goals home and away helped the team beat Haiti over two legs in that same campaign, were the top players back then with Lightbourne joining English lower-league side Scarborough later that year.
“When I scored that goal I was 21 or 22, around the age that some of those guys are right now,” Lightbourne said. “It’s an opportunity for them to stay together, work hard and achieve some personal goals as well, whether playing at a higher level or going off to university. Whatever comes in front of them is an opportunity.
“I know there are people saying ‘we should have done this’ or ‘we could have done that’ but the main thing is to continue playing. There are a lot of things in place at the BFA like the training facilities, which was always a big issue, and it makes things a little easier now.”
Lightbourne added: “It’s unfortunate that Nahki [Wells] wasn’t able to play. They pulled us apart a couple of times but defensively we looked fairly good, we have two excellent goalkeepers. I think we can beat that team that we played against last night.”